Panpan Yang, January 17

Panpan Yang, PhD candidate, Cinema and Media Studies and East Asian Languages and Civilizations

“Ink on Screen, or What Animation Calls Thinking”

Respondent: W. J. T. Mitchell, PhD, Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor, English and Art History

Friday, January 17, 2020

4:30-6:30 pm, CWAC 152

Co-sponsored with Mass Culture Workshop

Refreshments and a catered dinner will be provided


Abstract: This presentation reanimates the history of ink animation (水墨動畫) from the 1960s to the present. In its two golden eras, Shanghai Animation Studio produced some extremely exquisite ink animated films, such as Herdboy and the Flute (1963) and Feeling from Mountain and Water (1988). Most frames of these ink animated films, if frozen, are Chinese landscape paintings (山水畫, sometimes translated as “mountain-and-water paintings”). I show that the animated landscapes in the distinct genre of Chinese animation importune contemplation on space and time to a degree unthinkable in either live-action cinema or traditional “motionless” landscape images in painting, photography, and other media. Segueing into the recent trend of experimental ink animation, this talk also addresses how animation, in all its mobility, moves in and out of the sphere of contemporary Chinese art.


Herdboy and the Flute (Shanghai Animation Studio, 1963). Courtesy of the China Film Archive.


Persons with concerns regarding accessibility please contact Zhenru Zhou ( and Yin Wu (



Panpan Yang is a Ph.D. candidate in the joint program in Cinema and Media Studies and East Asian Languages and Civilizations. She studies East Asian cinema, media, and visual arts. Her dissertation, of which today’s talk is a part, examines Chinese animation in relation to other art forms. Supported by UChicago Arts, she is also working on a work of experimental animation, which animates a series of “wave and ripple” drawings from Hamonshū, a 1903 Japanese design book by little known artist Mori Yuzan.


J. T. Mitchell is Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English Language and Literature, and Art History. He is editor of the interdisciplinary journal, Critical Inquiry, a quarterly devoted to critical theory in the arts and human sciences. A scholar and theorist of media, visual art, and literature, Mitchell is associated with the emergent fields of visual culture and iconology (the study of images across the media). He is known especially for his work on the relations of visual and verbal representations in the context of social and political issues.




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